Grantham Town suffer slender defeat at The Meres
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Grantham Town 1
Bamber Bridge 2
Grantham Town's woes continued at home on Saturday, going down by the odd goal in three against high flying Bamber Bridge at The Meres.
With the Gingerbreads expecting a tough encounter, apart from admittedly taking the win, the Bamber boys showed little to justify their fourth place in the league – or perhaps Town did enough to disrupt the flow of the visitors' game, in which case, chapeau Gingerbreads.
The stadium was bathed in sunshine and the game battled out in unseasonably warm conditions with little or no breeze – a rare thing indeed at The Meres.
It was all Grantham going forward in the opening five minutes, with the best chance being a shot from Ali Ademir on five minutes which was caught by Bamber goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt.
Against the early run of play, the visitors went in front from a set-piece one minute later. Matthew Dudley's 20-yard free kick found Ewan Bange who headed in powerfully from close range.
Town had their own free kick in the eighth minute, Jacob Wright's well-struck on target 25-yard effort being caught high by Hewelt.
The pace of the game was fast and furious, and well balanced in all departments.
Grantham had several half-chances in a six minute spell of pressure. Manny Kianga headed wide, Wright's dangerous corner kick was cleared from the six-yard box, and a goalmouth scramble saw none of the three Gingerbreads involved managing to get a shot off.
Bamber's Matthew Thomson had a clear shot on goal from 25 yards in the 26th minute, but his attempt gave Town keeper Jim Pollard plenty of time to compose his save.
Pollard was forced into action again two minutes later, catching a tricky high header following Dudley's curling 30-yard free kick.
The visitors went close oncemore on the half hour mark, skipper Macauley Wilson's diving header going just wide from another Dudley free kick.
And then play swung so it was mainly again half-chances for Town in the final 10 minutes or so of the first half, most spectacularly when Hewelt caught Jonathan Wafula's 34th minute effort after he connected with Ademir's cross into the box.
The biggest cry of approval from the Meres faithful thus far was when the Gingerbreads' prodigal son came home again; local boy and fans' favourite Lee Shaw was introduced to play as a half time substitute.
Two Bamber fouls on Kianga, in the opening quarter of an hour of the second half, both resulted in goals missed. First Wafula blasted his free kick well over the Bamber bar, and then Thierry Latty-Fairweather missed a practical sitter at the far post following a Kianga ball from a Finley Shrimpton free kick.
The visitors had a good opportunity in the 63rd minute when Sheldon Green got on the end of a free kick, but Town keeper Pollard repelled his header.
Grantham sub Shaw had the ball in the Bamber net two minutes later, lobbing Hewelt, but the referee's assistant had already flagged for offside.
Bamber's Green found himself clean through on goal in the 68th minute, however Pollard stood up to him and saved well with his boot.
The end-to-end action continued apace but Grantham hearts were broken on 70 minutes when Bamber doubled their advantage. A defensive lapse made it easy for a ball to be delivered square across the box for Isaac Sinclair to bungle in from the edge of the six-yard box.
Gingerbreads heads did not drop and they went close in the 86th minute when the ball was pinged out from a scramble in the box to Shrimpton, but he fired his shot wide of the post.
Another opportunity came on 90 minutes when Town sub Harvey Grice's strike was deflected for a corner. Henry Eze headed the long corner back into the danger zone, but once again the visitors cleared their lines.
Gingerbreads supporters were given a lifeline of hope when Town pulled a goal back in the first minute of four added on by referee Mr O'Connor.
Probably thinking the game was all sewn up, Bamber's defensive were half asleep and allowed Ademir space aplenty to square in a cross to Wafula who headed in with aplomb.
Alas, the remaining three minutes proved not to be enough for the brave, battling Gingerbreads.
Grantham Town: Pollard, Williamson (c), Latty-Fairweather, Shrimpton, Eze, Adelekan, Ademir, Wright, Wafula, Clarke, Kianga. Subs: Shaw (Wright 45), De Girolamo (Adelekan 59), Grice (Kianga 85). Att: 245.